Random Update on My Life

So, I’ve got some things to say on books and movies… been struggling for inspiration blog wise, and I don’t want to just have space fillers and time wasting posts just to maintain some level of frequency. Benefit of not trying to make money off of a blog with advertising and sponsorship’s, I’m not beholden to the stats. It’s just my place to put down thoughts, ideas and share things I’ve learnt along the way, when I feel like it, it’s my space no one else’s.

So I’m back again, there’s at least four posts I want to write, not including this one. This one is a general update, there’s a lot of stuff going on in my life, which eclipsed both writing and blogging for a little bit.

To be honest, not writing was a mistake, I could have probably done with the release, write some random stuff just to get things off my chest, or explore what it is I’m feeling.

I’ll stop burying the lead, I’m faced with a massive life change as I’m being made redundant from a company I’ve worked at for 12 years. It’s not a bad thing, I posted round about this time last year about the need to make a change in my life regarding work, but it actually happened is something else.

I’ve got a plan, it’s a pretty good plan, it will allow me to keep earning, and given time, effort and dedication, I can prosper. Not only that, if managed well I will have more spare time, so I can really focus on my writing journey. It’s change though, it’s a massive change – and obviously that’s scary.

What’s interesting is, incredibly frequently in stories the characters have to go through serious changes in their lives as part of the story, and even when it’s something you want or are ready for, I don’t think I’ve ever fully understand just how emotional that can be. In fact, I think it’s something a lot of writers don’t necessarily appreciate.

So, this is where I find myself now. Exciting, but scary times. I just wanted to say something about it.

There’ll be a few more posts in the next few weeks, but for now I’m going to enjoy the Leeds West Indian Carnival parade, it passes by my street. I’ll add a photo of it. It’s a great event, one of the best things about living where I am now.

Review: Sam Gunn Omnibus, Ben Bova (2007)

I read this book years ago, and then I read it again, and again, and just recently… you guessed it, again! Sam Gunn Unlimited is the culminated tales of a 21st Century scoundrel, pioneer, visionary, conman, lothario, hero and villain, the man who single handedly (with a lot of help from a lot of people.. umm…) dragged mankind kicking and screaming from Earth and out into the Solar System, and maybe beyond?

Sam Gunn is the focus oh the book, but he’s not the protagonist, the story really follows a news reporter born and raised on the moon as she learns about the mysterious loved and loathed figure of a man, a former astronaut, operator of the first space hotel, the man who took commercial passengers into orbit for the first time, a cruise liner captain sailing the outer belt for asteroids, this larger than life figure, who was really short, a man who chased and was chased by women in amazing adventures.

See, what I just did there is what most of the characters in the book do, allow Sam Gunn to overshadow everything. In fact, Jade is a fascinating character in her own route, an outsider in a nation of outsiders, the first space orphan, she can never go to Earth due to a genetic condition, but through force of will, she jumps careers from manual labour on the moon’s surface to that of a reporter, giving her the resources, (with some corporate wranglings), to really dig into Sam Gunn and get people to tell her their stories of the greatest reprobate in the Solar system.

Jade’s story sets up the framing device Sam Gunn’s story, she interviews people and then the story switches to those people’s narratives, as unreliable a narrator as you could possibly want, making each story seem personal, but sometimes inconsistent. Perspective is everything, and it’s fascinating.

I mentioned that Sam Gunn even in absence, tends to overshadow everyone, but as with Jade that doesn’t mean the characters, the story tellers, Jade’s supporters and antagonists, they’re nearly all rich, you learn their histories, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, and their shames.

Sam Gunn’s life itself, is a story of an entrepeneur trying to make it rich on the new frontier, every step of the way he’s trying to push that frontier a bit further out so that he can net the profits while everyone else plays it safe and follows in his work. As is a common theme in Ben Bova’s stories, the corporations are the main antagonist in the story, they’re constantly trying to trick, cheat, or outright threaten our eponymous hero, but don’t worry Sam isn’t really a hero, as he’s more than happy to try and trick, cheat, and threaten them.

I love the scope of this book, it covers the preternaturally long life of Sam Gunn from his early days in NASA, until it catches up to the stories’ being told about him by Jade. There’s some fascinating discussions on the legal, ethical, and logistics of future space travel and colonisation. It has a fantastic finish, which leaves you wanting more from the cast of characters that come together at the end.

Literally the only thing I would change about this magical collection of stories is to embed more into the Grand Tour series, however as history is in places significantly different, and I think (off the top of my head), only one characters crosses over into Sam Gunn’s universe, I can see why it’s an independent story.

And one last note to add, and I’ll preface by saying this isn’t paid advertising, my most recent go through with Sam Gunn I did via Audible, where they had a tremendous multi-cast recording, so as you broke off into each of the different narrators it was a different voice, which really embedded the feel of the novel in a way single-voice recordings ever could. Really made you consider the biases, and the untrustworthy elements of the narrator. So I’d highly recommend if you want to experience Sam Gunn yourself, and you don’t have the time to sit down and read the whole thing, check out the Audible version. (Also it’s the Omnibus version, I previously only had the Sam Gunn Unlimited, which didn’t have the last few stories.. so that was a pleasant surprise to find out there was more to the story).

What I Blog About

So, let me make something clear – I’m in no way a successful writer, I’m not published, I enjoy telling stories and one day I may hit upon something I’d want to publish, but my craft is no where near where I would want it to be for that. I am an aspiring writer, hence the title of this blog, Aspiring.org.

I also really appreciate, and like to look at other people’s stories, which is why I’ve been adding in stuff about story telling from other writer’s, and other media. Now reviewing, or essaying about these is relatively new to me, and I’m early into honing it as a skill. I will improve though. I don’t think I’m going to ever be up there with the YouTube channel Movies with Mikey, who I highly recommend:

I can aspire though, and that’s what I’m all about. I will still be doing posts on the craft of writing, as I work out my way to becoming a half decent writer.

This isn’t a movie blog, but…

So, at the moment I’m really excited by a couple of movies coming up, the first for literary reasons, and the second for reasons nothing to do with writing but another interest of mine, (and it’s an excuse to talk about a non-writing passion).

There are spoilers ahead for the Le Mans 66 and new Dune movie, I’m feeling passionate about both, so I’m not self censoring – so it’s hidden behind the cut.

Continue reading

The 100 Follow Up

So a very quick follow up to my The 100 post…

I finished watching the show up to the end of season 5 – and season 5 was actually a good show that I wasn’t hate watching. Which makes me feel so much better, as I don’t like to think of myself in such a negative light, I may look miserable all the time, but I’m actually an optimist at heart.

Now, my own story based on the premise of The 100 came out pretty well, I didn’t write it out, just plotted it, did some art work to design my stations and space craft. It was just a thought exercise in effect to fix the problems in The 100. It also let me experiment with some different plotting techniques to get that story idea laid out ready to flesh out with words.

So nothing written, but great success anyway.

I’ll do a future post laying out that plot, the reason I’m not going to write it is because it’s literally derivative, while it was distinct from the original, it wasn’t an original idea in of itself. It’s okay to write something that’s not original, if you came to it independently and did some different things with it, it’s just one of those things. It is truly different to come up with something entirely new, and that’s what I’d prefer to do.

But again, the subject of originality is a post for another time – because it’s one of those that requires a lot of thought to say anything rational.

So this is a largely purposeless post, just following up on my rant, now on to some new things.

It’s been a struggle to get going…

While bored and looking for something to watch stumbled across The 100… so much stupid, poor storytelling, poor science.

I think I can do better, so I’m plotting out a better version of The 100, in detail. We’ll call it inspired by The 100, with some inspiration from Battlestar Galactica, FireFly, and Space: Above and Beyond – so there’s a bit more scope, more science, more interesting stories going on, and an ensemble cast of characters that are interesting and useful.

Still keep the dichotomy of a space side story and an Earth side story, with the challenge of little interaction between the two – but it wouldn’t just be a throw away plot line for series one/book one. However it wouldn’t be an overall recreation, it’s my own story – but inspired by the idea.

Yeah… I’m bored.

I’m also casting through idea after idea recently, nothing really sticks, so not been writing much of late. Plus there’s been other things on my mind, and other distractions, challenges and catastrophes, and some serious life shit going on. But once again, I’m going to try and get going.

Confession… I Failed NaNoWriMo

Yes – all that preparation, all the practice and warm up, and it didn’t add up to a win. A lot of stuff going on personally and professionally, plus I’ll admit there were more frivolous distractions like Red Dead Redemption 2, (great game), also listening to the Lord of the Rings novels, (great story, but so horribly written).

I made it to 28,469 words, and at the point where I stopped, I was still ahead of target. It wasn’t that I’d fallen behind, and just couldn’t catch up, I just disengaged and couldn’t get restarted after that.

In fairness it didn’t start great, struggled to get going until day 3, but with a sudden change in plot I flew off.

So, next up I’ve got to start writing again. No good dwelling on it, this post is to put a line under it. Going forwards I’m going to put the failed novel on the back burner – it was promising for a while, but it needs a good rewrite to fix some problems and let it flow again.

So, have some ideas for stories I’m going to explore with some plotting, and maybe the odd short story will come from those as a beta test. Also there’s an old story idea I want to revisit, if I’d written at the time it would have been very forward thinking, still is – but instead of being predictive, now it’s more stretching reality to it’s limit. Really have to strike while the iron is hot with an idea.

Anyway… went away to do NaNoWriMo, and should have come back earlier – I didn’t, but I’m back now. Let the writing commence.

And lastly – a sentiment just saw online – fail better. That’s definitely the goal for the next project.